Lady Tomahawks take home state soccer title
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Tue., Nov. 29, 2011
The top-seeded Glastonbury High School girls’ soccer team couldn’t contain their joy after they beat 20-seeded Trumbull, on Nov. 25, to take home the title of Class LL state champions.
Just moments after the 2-1 score was final, Liza Otto, who scored Glastonbury's first goal, said, “I’m so shocked. It’s still sinking in, and I can barely breathe, but I’m loving it.”
“I feel amazing,” said Kristen Dragotta, who scored the eventual game-winner.
“Unbelievable,” said fourth-year coach Joe Finocchiaro. “I told them since day one that I believed in this group. They believed in their coaching staff and in themselves, and they got it done.”
The score was 0-0 at the half, but Glastonbury appeared to have the edge, with longer possession time and crisper passes. After some halftime adjustments in the game plan, Glastonbury was able to create more chances against Trumbull’s upstart defense which had carried that team through three tournament upsets of higher-seeded teams.
Finocchiaro said the ups and downs of the second half were a bit nerve-wracking, but he still felt confident, especially knowing that his team was literally “head and shoulders” above Trumbull.
“I knew we had a little bit of a height advantage,” Finocchiaro said. “That was something we talked about at halftime. In the first half, there were instances where we put too much pressure on them and gave them goal kicks as opposed to corner kicks. So I told them to play for corners and see if we could capitalize on them, and we were able to.”
With 19:45 on the clock in the second half, Glastonbury’s Kayla Orozco launched a corner kick that Liza Otto was able to direct with her head past Trumbull goalie Emily Doris.
“I just never took my eyes off the ball,” Otto said. “It was a perfect serve – couldn’t have been better, and I knew I had a little bit of a height advantage, but it takes a lot of focus to put it in the back of the net. I couldn’t believe it.”
It appeared Glastonbury was on its way to a 1-0 victory, but Doris came out on a ball sent into the corner, and misplayed it, enabling Glastonbury junior Kristen Dragotta to sweep the loose ball into the net with just 2:41 to go.
“I just knew I had to stay composed,” Dragotta said, “and I just had to bury it. It was up to me.” It turned out Dragotta’s goal was indeed the game-winner, as Trumbull’s Marissa Piccolo scored just 26 seconds later.
“This group of kids is such a special group,” Finocchiaro said of his team. “I have seen a few of them – especially the captains – since they were 10 years old, so this is a special treat for them to walk off this field with a victory today.”
For Glastonbury senior captain McKenzie Hollenbaugh (as well as many other players on the team), the game was a bit of redemption. The same Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven where their victory came was the setting for the Lady Tomahawks’ heartbreaking loss in a final match two years prior. Hollenbaugh had scored a miraculous goal from 25 yards out in that loss.
“Without a doubt it’s redemption,” Hollenbaugh said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better. This just completed my entire senior year. I’m a happy woman right now.”